Is there any better feeling than leaving work exactly on time after an ultra-productive day? I certainly don't think so. In order to really thrive and seize each day, how efficiently you use your time is of utmost importance. Of course, we all face the same challenge—there are only 24 hours in our day, so to reach our goals we must find ways to do more with the precious time we’ve been given.
Don’t panic! This isn’t about working longer or pushing harder. It's about working smarter, so you have more time for the things that improve your happiness and make you feel more zen—like that evening yoga class or an extra hour of sleep. These productivity hacks can help you be far more efficient, so here’s how to squeeze every drop out of every hour:
1. Slay your dragon first.
In the business world, this is often known as "Eating a frog." It comes from the Mark Twain quote, "Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day."
In other words, do the least appetizing, most dreaded item on your to-do list first to get it out of the way. If you let your biggest challenges sit, you’ll spend the day dreading them—or convincing yourself to put them off further. If you slay them right away, then you’re freed up to tackle the more exciting stuff.
2. Urgent, schmurgent.
We must strive to address "tyranny of the urgent," or the tendency to let little things that "have to be done right now" get in the way of what really matters. The key here is to delete or delegate. Practice spotting when putting out fires is getting in the way of your productivity. Ask yourself this: Do you have to respond to every client email right away, or could you send one weekly newsletter to address common questions? Let go of the things that hinder your progress.
Differentiate between urgent tasks and important ones. Your goals and projects are important tasks. Notifications and alerts are urgent tasks that can wait.
3. Checking email.
It’s hard to avoid letting email be a constant interruption, but email forces you to become reactive instead of proactive, structuring your day according to the needs of others. So take control of your time and check email on a schedule, perhaps twice a day. This allows the remaining time for working on with your projects or what matters most.
4. Say no.
It can be hard to say no to new work and opportunities, but saying yes to everything can have you feeling stressed and overwhelmed. Saying no to a new commitment honors your existing projects and allows you the time to successfully fulfill them. So think carefully about each commitment you take on. When you are on the clock or supposed to be working, your time is for your work. Protect it. Say "no" more often. Don’t get lured into things you don’t have time for.
5. Say no to multitasking.
Avoid multitasking. It’s actually less productive than doing a single thing at a time! Multitasking reduces your efficiency and performance because your brain can focus on only one thing at a time. When you try to do two things at once, your brain lacks the capacity to perform both tasks successfully. Do one thing well and move on to the next.
6. Bonus: Try these quick, easy hacks to make better use of your time.
- Make to-do lists.
- Schedule in breaks to get outside or rest—they actually make you more productive!
- Keep a list of your big goals and dreams pinned up somewhere you can see them every day to remind you where you’re headed.
- Forgive yourself for off days. Once in a while, the best we can achieve in a day is a shower, putting on clothes, and picking up a cup of coffee. And that's OK because tomorrow is a new start.
Inspired? On the flip side, check out the habits that might be destroying your creativity.